Monday, July 13, 2015


New Horizons was launched toward Pluto on January 19, 2006, nine-and-a-half years ago. If you look into news accounts of the launch from 2006, you see that many government figures were purposely vague about the timing of the mission, saying only that New Horizons would reach Pluto in the summer of 2015. But mission director Alan Stern said in his launch day press conference that closest approach would be on July 14. So that's a journey of 3 billion miles (5 billion km), completed with a maximum error of 12 hours out of 3462 days,or .014 percent.

I find this amazing, but I suppose you could equally take it as a sign that most of space is completely empty and utterly predictable.

1 comment:

G. Verloren said...

Space travel is all about your velocity. If you're adjusting your orbit or trajectory, the only thing that really matters is your "Delta V", or how much you increase or decrease your speed.

If you are using stable enough fuel, you can calculate very exactly how much you will change your speed through a given duration of "burn". You just calculate the difference needed to alter your path of travel how you want, then fire your rockets for the appropriate amount of time, and hey presto, the rest takes care of itself.